PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the 2019 State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly last night. Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parliament - The new investigative unit President Cyril Ramaphosa plans to establish to combat state capture should start by probing Bosasa's donation to his ANC leadership campaign, Democratic Alliance justice spokeswoman Glynnis Breytenbach said on Monday.

Breytenbach suggested this would prove political commitment to fighting graft at all levels because there was a risk that the new directorate could be established and disbanded at whim.

Ramaphosa announced in his state of the nation address on Thursday that the unit, meant to prosecute cases of state capture, would be established in terms of section 7 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, Act 32 of 1998 (the Act). 

Breytenbach said the law allowed the president to, from time to time, establish investigating directorates within the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), with a specific mandate determined by presidential proclamation.

"Section 7(2) of the Act however allows for the president to amend or rescind the founding proclamation upon the recommendation of the NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions] and the ministers of justice and police," Breytenbach said.

"In essence, this means that the president can disband the investigating unit if their investigations start to hit too close to home, for example if they start investigating the R500 000 donation made to the president’s campaign fund by Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson."

Ramaphosa is under political pressure over the half a million rand handout.

His announcement of plans for the new directorate was initially interpreted as a move to revive a directorate along the line of the defunct Scorpions, or the Office for Serious Economic Offences but Breytenbach pointed out that in terms of the mechanism Ramaphosa plans to use to establish it, the new unit would not be a permanent entity.

Ramaphosa suggested that it would specifically deal with evidence that has emerged before the Zondo and other commissions.

"Although this move in the direction of investigating and prosecuting state capture cases as a matter of urgency is a very welcome one, it does not go far enough in restoring the kind of permanent independent investigative capacity that existed previously.

"It only creates the impression that the failing ANC government is serious about combatting corruption."

African News Agency/ANA